Caring for a COVID-19 patient at home: Safety tips for all

Caring for a COVID-19 patient at home: Safety tips for all

It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic first reached Malaysia. Though vaccines are just around the corner, the recent surge in cases has caused our hospitals to be at full capacity. Many COVID-19 positive patients with mild symptoms have been instructed to stay home and recover. If you or someone you live with become infected with COVID-19, here are some important care tips you need to know.

Who should not be a COVID-19 patient caregiver? 

If possible, the caregiver should not be someone with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These are individuals who are more likely than others to become very ill because of the virus. This includes:

  • Older adults (over 60 years old)
  • Pregnant women 
  • Immunocompromised people 
  • People who are obese 
  • People with medical conditions 

What should a caregiver do?

Follow these tips to protect yourself and others while caring for a mild COVID-19 positive patient. You should also follow these tips if someone has tested positive for COVID-19, but is not showing any of the symptoms. 

Mask on during interactions 

Both patient and caregiver must wear a mask when in contact. Used masks must be thrown into a closed bin. Wash your hands immediately after. 

Isolate the patient from others 

The COVID-19 patient must stay isolated in a well-ventilated room away from others. If possible, have them use a separate bathroom. They can still use a common bathroom, but it must be cleaned with soap and water after each use.

Avoid sharing common spaces and items 

The COVID-19 patient should eat separately, and not share food items or utensils with others. They are advised to clean their own utensils and keep them aside. Caregivers should also wash the patient’s clothes and bedding separately from the shared laundry pile. If possible, wash their laundry at the warmest setting or with hot water.

Disinfect frequently 

The caregiver must disinfect high touch areas and items frequently used by the patient. This includes doorknobs, light switches, beds, tables, chairs, remote controls, bathroom fixtures, serving trays, and utensils.

Use an oximeter or pulse oximeter 

Keep watch over the COVID-19 patient’s health with an oximeter or pulse oximeter. This device will help monitor oxygen levels and give you an idea if the patient requires medical attention from doctors or proper medical care from the hospital. 

Stay vigilant for warning signs 

Caregivers should look out for signs that the patient’s health is getting worse, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cyanosis (purple-blue lips or fingers), even if the patient is on oxygen
  • Oxygen saturation of less than 96%
  • Chest tightness 
  • Altered state of consciousness (irritability in children and lethargy in adults)
  • Frequent vomiting and diarrhea 
  • Unable to keep food down 
  • Reduced urine output 
  • Coughing up blood 

If the patient exhibits any of these signs, get in contact with your nearest hospital immediately via 999 or the numbers available on your MySejahtera app. 

Resources 

CDC. (2021) Caring for Someone Sick at Home. [Accessed: 9 March 2021] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html 

CDC. (2021) People at Increased Risk. [Accessed: 9 March 2021] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fpeople-at-increased-risk.html 

University of Malaya (2021) Care for patients with suspected or confirmed mild COVID-19 at home [Accessed: 9 March 2021] Available at: https://mind.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/PUBLIC-HOME-MONITORING-PACKAGE.pdf

University of Malaya (2021) Panduan penjagaan di rumah bagi pesakit-pesakit yang disyaki atau disahkan COVID-19 bergejala ringan [Accessed: 9 March 2021] Available at: https://mind.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/AWAM-PANDUAN-PENJAGAAN-DI-RUMAH.pdf